Reviewed by Nina

Before I begin, some information on the skin and hair type this home hair removal device is good for: the BellaLite by Silk’n: Professional Hair Removal At Home only works on lighter-skinned people with coarse, dark body hair. If that’s you, onward!

So, the only reason I purchased my BellaLite was Costco’s ethical return policy. Costco gets that a 30-day return policy on an item that may not deliver results for up to 18 months is a sales scam and a dumb purchase. Assured that if I was still hairy 18 months on I could return my BellaLite, even if I lost the receipt (18 months is a long time to keep track of a scrap of paper), I decided to invest.

That was four months ago. And I’ve now decided I’m keeping my BellaLite forever.

BellaLite’s instructions say it may take up to four treatments to see results; I was lucky and saw them immediately. Not quite endless expanses of gleaming Sheer Energy skin, but inspiring patchy baldness that got me thinking about miniskirts, short shorts and prancing off to work singing “She’s got L’eggs.” I’ve used BellaLite on my legs, underarms, (and I blush to say) bikini line and upper lip, and I’ve had great results in all areas. The aforementioned patches grow larger with each use, and the hair that does return comes in lighter, finer and more slowly, but still dark enough to zap into ultimate oblivion. Full results will likely take at least a year, but it’s a trifling price to defeat my grows-as-fast-as-I can-wax-it hair.

BellaLite is really easy to use. You shave your target area, clean it, then press the laser head to your skin and zap! The first four sessions occur at two-week intervals. You begin on the lowest setting and work your way to the highest, which is five. Thereafter, you treat your skin every four weeks. I have completed six sessions and am at level five. BellaLite has caused me no pain, the only sensation I’ve felt is warmth, but for those who are sensitive, BellaLite is effective at lower settings.

The unit is a bit bigger than a stack of CDs, and the laser face is 2 by 3 centimeters – big enough to move things along quickly, but small enough to use on your face and bikini area. It comes with a thorough instruction manual and a brief, but worthwhile instructional DVD. BellaLite is safety equipped to protect against accidental misuse: it cannot emit light when facing open air or if the head is not pressed firmly and completely against the skin, so eyes are safe from accidental exposure. The device also has skin color sensor, and again will not emit light onto skin that is too dark or tanned. And, if you’re impatient like me, and it’s your own poor judgment you need protection against, BellaLite is programmed to automatically deliver the first 50 pulses on the lowest setting only, and the next 200 at no higher than the third setting. To make precision zapping as easy as possible, and to prevent double hits, the laser face is surrounded by a raised edge that imprints onto your skin to demarcate the area you’ve just treated. The prints do fade quickly, so I recommend dotting with eyeliner to mark where you’ve treated.

The slightly tricky thing about laser hair removal is that efficacy depends upon hair’s growth phase. Of the three phases, Anagen, Catagen and Telogen, lasers only works during the Anagen. But at any given point, about 85% of all hair is in its Achilles Anagen phase, which lasts between two to six years on your head, but only 30 to 45 days elsewhere (says one website, another puts body hair’s Anagen phase at 4 to 26 weeks). So, when to begin isn’t a total crapshoot, but if you’re looking for the best bet, I’d say early fall is the logical time as it’s recommended you avoid sunlight when treating with BellaLite.

BellaLite is currently selling at Costco for $299, after a $100 rebate; elsewhere, prices range between $345 and $499, and it comes with three replacement cartridge lamps. The one drawback is that the replacement lamps are 50 bucks a pop, so it’s not a one-time investment. But compared to professional laser hair removal, it’s an amazing deal for a luxury treatment. And if, like me, you have fast-acting follicles that produce coarse, dark (perhaps obvious-at-distance) hair, the joy of stubble-free legs (that aren’t nicked or dotted with screaming follicles) is worth easily a thousand dollars, which is probably less than what a year of waxing costs.